The 11 Coolest Things at the 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival in San Francisco

Friday, July 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

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The sixth annual J-POP SUMMIT Festival was held in San Francisco's Japantown over the weekend of July 19-20, 2014. It was fun and exhilarating and loud and crowded (a serious crowd of humanity in the space of a few blocks) and full of unexpected and wonderful things. Here are some of those things - and it's not even all Hatsune Miku, but there's a lot of her, too.



Since we're already speaking of her, my weekly Radio Valencia show called Nose Hair Lint Gland did a Miku-heavy J-POP SUMMIT preview show on Wednesday, July 16. You can listen to it here.

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(Fair warning: more than one person has described Nose Hair Lint Gland as "unlistenable.")

I arrived early on 9am Saturday morning while they were still setting up, got my press credentials (Lanyard Achievement Unlocked!), and had my first run-in with cosplayers.

1. So Much Cosplay! (Also, We Looked Swell.)

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My first thought was "Sailor Moon!" But that's because there's a great deal that I don't know about anime and/or Japanese pop culture. (Which, among other things, is why I was there.) It wasn't until the Cosplay Masquerade later that day that I discovered they were in fact from a game, a game whose name was spoken clearly and loudly in fluent, unaccented English by American citizens more than once yet which I'm still unable to parse, and it thoroughly defeats my Google Fu. Any of you recognize the name of the game?

I should mention that I didn't take many pictures of cosplay as such, since that wasn't really my primary interest. However, CosplaySF was on the scene and took many high-quality pictures, as did SF Weekly, so check those out - after you've finished reading this article and patronized Topless Robot's gracious advertisers, of course. (Remember, when you use an ad blocker, you're using COMMUNISM and blocking FREEDOM.) Besides, even though I was there under the auspices of the Voice Media Group, I felt like I was well over the line from spectator to active (cos)player, which is kinda where I live most of the time anyway. My daily-use purse is a replica of Ramona Flowers' Subspace Suitcase, and those synthetic dreadlocks are actually woven into my hair, just for starters.

I spent most of Saturday with my dear friend Ilene, and people asked to take our picture more than few times, probably because we looked terrific together. We hadn't coordinated ahead of time to both wear black and purple, nor for her green hair to match my green press pass, but we're just that good.

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A nice detail about the friendly vibe of the event was that even though these signs were posted...

...as a rule, almost everybody asked politely first, even the creepy guys.

As I say, taking pictures of general cosplay didn't interest me so much as cataloging...

2. So Many Mikus!

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Indeed, while they were setting up the Sega booth early in the morning, Miku was on guard...

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...and posing with herself later in the day.

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She was in the Cosplay Masquerade, naturally, though not as many Mikus as I expected.

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(Language note: my usage of the name "Miku" mirrors that of Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas; from my experience, any given one is simply called Elvis, as in "Elvis should be arriving soon," or "Hey, there's Elvis!")

Miku was also to be found near Moshi Moshi Nippon's KAWAii! booth...

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...and on the street...

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...and even occasionally indoors, in felinoid form.

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Speaking of cats --

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There were wigs for the nascent Mikus...

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...and all sorts of merchandise, of course, since Miku is nothing if not a merchandising bonanza. And there's certainly nothing new under the sun; I recently acquired a used copy of The Elvis Catalog: Memorabilia, Icons, And Collectibles Celebrating The King Of Rock 'N' Roll, and mercy, was there a torrent of tchotchkes. Elvis was real and Miku is not, of course, but neither is Mickey Mouse, and that hasn't prevented billions of dollars in merchandise sales over the decades. All that said, however, I do not know what the hell this is:

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Nor do I want to know, and I certainly don't need anyone to Google it for me, as doing so would ruin the delightful mystery of "Christmas Piano Cake" as a consumer product. I'm just glad that it exists.

I do have a better idea of what this is, though.

3. The New Miku Video Game.

At the SEGA Booth, one could both pre-order the upcoming Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd for the PS3 and PS VITA, and/or play a localized version of the game. I did neither of these things, since I don't anticipate acquiring PS3 or PS VITA in the near future, nor did I want to fail miserably at it in front of a crowd. I do like rhythm games quite a lot (in general, I find I gravitate towards games that don't involve killing people), and I recently installed MikuFlick /02 on my iPad (and can be heard playing it in the right channel through much of the 7/16 Nose Hair Lint Gland), but this was far too daunting.

Here's one woman playing Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd...

...and another woman playing on the other screen, at least until the fellow behind the table cut the power for reasons I never quite grasped.

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